Rian Johnson Delivers Another Murder Mystery Masterpiece


Carrying big expectations created by the success of “Knives Out,” “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” premiered Nov. 23. 

The appeal of the first film, for many, was the stellar cast. However, the film succeeded due to the unique storytelling and excellent dialogue within its classic whodunit framework. 

The second film is less star studded. “Glass Onion” has a plethora of famous actors, but it is the quality of the first film and good advance buzz for the new film that brought people to the theaters this time around. Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, the cunning detective with a sense of humor. Blanc, sporting his deep country accent, is on the case again. 

“Glass Onion” is a different film than the original. In some ways it improves on it. The acting is excellent in this movie, everyone in the cast does a superb job. Craig is great again, but Janelle Monae is a total scene stealer. Monae displays her emotions so well, making her character easy to cheer for and sympathize with. This film has more emotional depth and real heart than the first, and Monae’s character and performance is a big part of that. 

There also seemed to be a conscious attempt to make this film unique within the whodunit genre. While “Glass Onion” follows a lot of murder mystery tropes, it pulls them off in different ways. The film works hard on establishing relationships and the circumstances and motive of each character. 

Rian Johnson, the director, achieves character depth without losing comedic moments. Although there is more seriousness and professionalism among the guests, there is still a fair share of laugh out loud moments. Benoit Blanc often acts as the voice of reason, but Craig’s great delivery also makes for terrific comedic moments. This film gives us more of Blanc than the original, and that was a great choice. Craig’s charisma and charm make him always a delight to have on screen.

As in the first, Johnson tries to slide popular culture into the film. Johnson made the bold choice of setting the film in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of filmmakers have attempted to address the pandemic and come across tone deaf. However, in “Glass Onion,” Johnson uses the pandemic very well. Johnson is even able to sneak a cameo appearance of “Among Us” into the film and have it make sense. As the audience sees how different characters handle the pandemic, we can understand each character very quickly.

In “Glass Onion,” Johnson criticizes what he finds wrong in society, sometimes subtly and other times more obviously. Two characters personify performative politics, a lack of real morals and how celebrities don’t have to deal with real consequences. Johnson also makes fun of the new “sigma male” persona through a character. In “Glass Onion,” Johnson shows strong antipathy towards the upper class. He paints a nasty picture of characters prepared to make whatever selfish choices will give them money in the end. All of the members of the party choose money over the right, moral choice. Because of their reliance on Miles Bron (played by Edward Norton), the characters will do whatever benefits Bron. Bron works so well as a parody of a billionaire who has been making the news on a daily basis that it seems like Johnson wrote a lot of the Bron character very recently. 

Johnson clearly had fun making this film. He used an incredibly grandiose, exotic set and played with imagery and cinematography. The symbolism around the house, especially with the actual glass onion, really works. Johnson utilizes big personalities with clever dialogue to create intriguing characters. The film is funnier, flashier and more brazen than “Knives Out.” 

The film feels fun and whimsical at points, but it also has moments of real sincerity and darkness. Johnson executes the tone switches very well, and the pace is always changing and interesting. Although it plays on many traditional murder mystery tropes, “Glass Onion” isn’t a film that just has you waiting for the final reveal. For a murder mystery, it doesn’t overload you with twists. It really is focused on the depth and emotional appeal of the story.